Since the inception of Islam, the five daily salat were ordained and the erection of mosques began. Madinah had the very first in the history of Islam. The building of mosques spread all over the world just as the religion of Islam. In fact, erecting a mosque is one of the first things a Muslim community, no matter the number, starts with. It could even be an open empty space, just meant for coming together and observing salat. It could also be an erected building.
Like minarets, domes are one of the signature forms in Islamic architecture. Since the revelation of Islam in the seventh century of the Common Era until today, they have been used in most—if not all—Islamic lands and cultures. Technically, a dome is a rounded vault, set over a room that is usually square. Builders adopted various means to connect the square room to the dome’s circular base.
Long before Islam, the dome was a popular architectural form throughout the Mediterranean and southwest Asia. Indeed the English word dome derives from the Latin word domus, which means “house.” In Arabic, the most common term for a dome is qubba, which comes from a Syriac word meaning “canopy” or “umbrella”—a reference to the much earlier domical tents of Turkoman and other nomads.
The first major work of Islamic architecture, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, finished in 691 under the sponsorship of the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Malik, is covered by a monumental dome on a wooden frame. A few years later, when his son the Caliph al-Walid had the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Madinah reconstructed, a shallow wooden dome was installed over the space in front of the mihrab, to emphasize its importance, and today the Prophet’s Mosque, rebuilt over the centuries, retains this feature. Additionally, the palaces of the Umayyad caliphs in Syria invariably had a domed audience hall, known as a qubbat al-khadra’ or a “dome of heaven.” These three types of domes—commemorative, sacred and royal (or official)—continue to be used in Islamic architecture to this day.
In the Islamic lands and cultures around the Mediterranean, the domed interior was generally regarded as more important than the exterior, which was often either plain or covered with a practical, weather-resistant pyramidal tile roof. Thus the ribbed domes added to the Great Mosque of Córdoba in the 10th century are magnificently decorated on the interior, especially the one on the cover of this calendar, which rises above the front of the mihrab. By the 12th century, the development of the muqarnas, the quintessentially Islamic form of architectural decoration that is often likened to stalactites, gave builders new means of decorating interior vaults. The plaster interior of the Qubbat al-Baadiyyin in Marrakesh combines the Córdoban tradition of ribbed vaults with muqarnas in the corners. Perhaps the most magnificent examples to survive are the two Nasrid muqarnas domes in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, in which thousands of plaster elements suggest the rotating dome of heaven.
Below are some of these crafts and the touch they have on them. The interior makes a very important creative art work that leaves much impression.
Museum of Islamic Art in Doha: The I. M. Pei’s design for the recently opened Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, combines traditional motifs within a modernist aesthetic. The rigorous geometry of the vast interior atrium recalls Islamic geometric patterns, while the crowning cupola is a modernist take on traditional muqarnas domes. The interior is subtly illuminated by an enormous circular chandelier inspired by Mamluk and Ottoman lamps.
The Mosque of Córdoba Dome: During the extension of the Mosque of Córdoba in 976 under the Spanish Umayyad Caliph al-Hakam II, Its ribbed dome was erected over the mihrab, which indicates the direction of prayer. Entirely covered with glass and gold mosaics, its unique form was probably meant to recall a dome in the Umayyad mosque of Damascus, as were the mosaics, which were said to have been produced by a workman sent by the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople.
The Tilla-Kari (Goldwork) madrassah: The Tilla-Kari (Goldwork) madrassah in Samarkand that was erected in the mid-17th century as the third and largest structure facing the city’s Registan, or public square. The prayer hall is crowned by a double dome: The interior one is set on squinches and richly decorated with painted and gilded plaster; the outer dome is raised on a tall drum and tiled in turquoise blue.
The muqarnas dome over the Hall of the Two Sisters: Composed of small molded plaster elements ﬁt together with extraordinary precision, the muqarnas dome over the Hall of the Two Sisters is one of the highlights of the 14th-century Palace of the Lions within the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. Retaining traces of its original gold and blue paint, the dome would have twinkled like stars in the sky when sunlight shone through the windows onto its faceted surface.
The white marble Taj Mahal in Agra: The white marble Taj Mahal in Agra, India, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, is flanked by two red sandstone structures crowned with white marble domes. While the domes’ exterior profiles are bulbous, the hemispheric dome on the interior of the mosque is made of red sandstone delicately decorated with a network pattern picked out in white marble.
Today, many contemporary domed mosques refer to historical precedents. For example, the Jumeirah mosque in Dubai is a modern interpretation of Qaitbay’s tomb in Cairo. Others take new directions. Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei abstracted the Mamluk-era domed fountain in Cairo’s Ibn Tulun mosque for his design of Doha’s new domed Museum of Islamic Art; on the interior, its cupola recalls the sculptural qualities of the traditional muqarnas dome. Thus the architectural traditions of domes remain vibrant in Islamic cultures today. These domes had a very special touch in the architectural design which remains unique hitherto amongst all other architectural works. Some were even designed with pure gold and so many other precious stones. This is an art eternalized by Islam and Muslims with a rebranding course and perfected.